“There is a beast in man that needs to be exercised, not exorcised”
- Anton La Vey
The most common question I receive concerning Quimbanda is how one work with these spirits in safe but committed ways. If you ask around you will basically get two different answers on such inquiry. Many Quimbandeiros will say that you cannot learn how to tend to these spirits from a book and that full initiation (i.e. receiving the spirit vessels in where Exu and Pomba Gira resides and be crowned and cut as Tata/Yaya) is paramount to working Quimbanda.
This is a truth with modification, because we have at least two nuances here. One is that some of these spirits are actually personal, they are yours. Quimbanda holds that if you are human, you also have a Pomba Gira and an Exu to walk with you and watch over you. I like to think about our personal Exu and Pomba Gira as a sort of balanced kakodaimonos, inflamed with the lust of life and opportunity. Just like our agathodaimonos is always walking with us, providing luck and opportunity by means of the rational soul, Exu and Pomba Gira do this by the gateways of the sensorial soul, or the emotive path of the perceptive and sensual body.
Because of this, it is important to know how to work with the more erratic side of being in calm, yet fiery, and disciplined ways – because to temper our soul is not always so easy. We fall in and out of love as we fall in and out of rage. Declaring it is beyond our control. Yet knowledge of your Pomba Gira and Exu can provide that control.
For me it is puzzling that some will deny people to work with spirit guides that are already walking with them. It is like giving restrictions on working with ancestors. To tend to your ancestors is not only a birthright. It should be something we do as fundamental to our spiritual well being and I see the work with ones Exu and Pomba Gira similar to the work we do with our daimon. It is important to enter into a communion with these spirits, because they know all about the sensorial soul and what many refer to as your shadow or ‘dark side’. Naturally to make a pact with them – is to make a pact with your soul. It is about embracing yourself in full, your night as well as your day.
Quimbanda is about sulfur and brimstone; it is about working with your own Hellfire and all those appetites in your soul that can push you away from Self. Hence, guidance from someone crowned in the cult (Tata/Yaya) is important in order to obtain stability and not venture within the ravines of obsession where one’s soul gets lost in dark deserts of vengeance, oblivion and violence.
I don’t believe that Quimbanda should be restricted to absolute secrecy – I believe the duty of any Tata or Yaya is to give the needful advice of how to establish this communion with your own spirits – they after all entered your life upon your birth. That a cult holds secrecy is fine, it is as it should be, but to venerate your personal spirits there is no need to know all deep secrets concerning legions and kingdoms. It is about focus and goal. It is about a certain self interest that is supported by spirits like Exu and Pomba Gira. Because if you are interested in venturing into the labyrinths of the sensorial soul they will be with you at every step you take on this track.
It is from this we have the absurd suggestions that Exu will turn any man into a pimp and Pomba Gira will turn any woman into a prostitute. This is so erroneous, because these spirits have a great sympathy with humans and our life. For them there is no judgment between right and wrong, just a call to solution and contentment. The happy whore and the happy saint are seen as bound in their happiness and not the road towards it…
As such Exu and Pomba Gira are forces that move Fate and soul. They seek to bring you to your destination – but if you find a happy oasis on the way to the goal they tend to pamper and support you in the joy – because life is joy. And this is a truth of all situations we just accept, bad as well as good, where they enter as a call for affirmation. And in this lies the danger and hence the need for guidance.